Yesterday when InTouch Weekly reported that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith were “separating” after thirteen seemingly blissful years of marriage the Internet world went bizzerk. (Admit it, you choked on your coffee a little.) Before the couple, or their rep, could even confirm or deny the reports, the story was already a trending topic on Twitter and by far the most-shared article of the day.
I, like most of America it seems, stopped what I was doing and begin clicking around the net seeking more details about this supposed split – mainly out of fascination for how popular the topic had become in a matter of minutes. What I found was disturbing on so many levels. Nearly every article posted about the potential demise of Will and Jada’s marriage had received over a thousand Facebook likes. Really? That many people felt comfortable admitting that they “like” the idea that one of the few examples of positive marriage we see in Hollywood could be over? What does that say about marriage in our society today? For starters, even when we see positivity, we’re quick to cast our doubt.
Unlike so many celebrity couples who live their lives in the limelight, over the years, Will and Jada have actually made a point of speaking out about how hard they’ve worked to maintain a healthy happy marriage and family life, and what it takes to get there. I can recall countless interviews throughout their marriage where both Will and Jada have repeatedly credited one another for the success of their marriage and spoken openly about the work involved in achieving and maintaining it. We don’t know whether it’s true or not, but the message they’ve chosen to share is a positive one. Yet, before any of us even knew whether InTouch Weekly was full of crap or not we were already tweeting and Facebooking about how “we knew it” or “it was too good to be true”.
Although ultimately, I don’t think any one should give a damn about anyone else’s marriage but our own – good or bad, and especially celebrity unions – we should check ourselves if we find that our interests are cynical, negative, and ultimately supportive of the failure of an institution that’s designed to uplift and support.
Now if someone clicked the “like” button solely for the purpose of sharing the article with others on their Facebook feed, that’s one thing. Trouble is, if they’re being honest, I don’t think many people can say that’s why they did it. When the news finally broke that all was well in Will and Jada’s world it felt almost as if there was more disappointment in the air than relief. Not even half as many people were willing to stop and “like” that news, last I checked. Why not?!
When it comes to marriage, in general, isn’t success the outcome we all wish for? Or has pop culture’s general disregard and disrespect for the institution as a whole, compounded with the frequent news reports slamming it’s overall validity or relevance in the 21st century, convinced us all that marriage is no longer something we should root for?
Read about my casual chat with Will Smith on marriage and what he taught me here.